The launch would have been the company’s first since a launch-pad explosion destroyed another rocket last September at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
SpaceX said on its official Twitter account that the next available launch date at the base north of Lompoc, Calif., was Saturday.
Rain is expected at the Air Force base on the Central Coast through Thursday.
The plan Sunday was to carry 10 satellites into space for Iridium Communications Inc., which wants to establish a constellation of satellites to deliver mobile communications capabilities on land and on ships and airplanes.
The Hawthorne-based SpaceX and its chief executive, Elon Musk, had originally hoped to return to flight as soon as last November. But the investigation of its September explosion lasted longer than anticipated.
In its statement, SpaceX said the investigation team found “several credible causes” for the vessel’s failure, all of which involved the accumulation of oxygen in the rocket’s inner liners.
The explosion destroyed a satellite that was going to be managed by Israeli satellite operator Spacecom and was also to help Facebook bring high-speed Internet access to remote parts of Africa.
|Shown are the remnants of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which was destroyed along with its payload in a Sept. 1 explosion at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. (Red Huber / Florida Today via Associated Press)|
SpaceX delays launch due to weather
SpaceX has postponed the return to flight for its Falcon 9 rocket until Jan. 14 at the earliest, due to a gloomy weather forecast for the next few days at its California launch site.
The Federal Aviation Administration gave its clearance for the launch on Friday, after accepting SpaceX’s report on last September’s failure of a Falcon 9 on its launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
That rocket and its Amos-6 satellite payload were lost due to a spectacular explosion that occurred while SpaceX was conducting a launch rehearsal.
A months-long investigation determined that the blast was caused by the failure of a helium pressure vessel inside the rocket’s second-stage liquid oxygen propellant tank.
SpaceX says it has changed its helium loading procedure to address the issue in the short term, and will redesign the pressure vessels as a longer-term solution.
The company conducted a problem-free rehearsal for the Iridium launch on Thursday.
The delay has caused complications for SpaceX and its customers. It’s been five months since the most recent launch of a Falcon 9, and the scheduled payloads – including a cargo shipment to the International Space Station – are stacking up.
Poor weather delays SpaceX rocket launch five days
HAWTHORNE, Calif., Jan. 8 (UPI) -- SpaceX's planned rocket launch was delayed five days until Jan. 14 because of bad weather.
The launch was originally scheduled for 10:22 a.m. Monday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, announced Sunday on Twitter: "Launch moving due to high winds and rains at Vandenberg. Other range conflicts this week results in next available launch date being Jan 14."
The company set a new launch time of 9:54 a.m. with a backup date one day later for the Falcon 9 carrying 10 Iridium Communications satellites.
Iridium chief executive Matt Desch tweeted Sunday: "Bad weather the cause. Anti-rain dances didn't work -- oh well. Cal needs rain?"
On Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorized SpaceX's Commercial Space Transportation License. SpaceX launches have been suspended since Sept. 1, after a massive explosion during a prelaunch test at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Fla. destroyed launch equipment and a $95 million satellite owned by Facebook.
On Jan. 2, SpaceX announced the conclusion of a four-month investigation that found the explosion "likely" resulted from buckling in tanks that store gaseous helium to pressurize propellant tanks. The company plans to reconfigure its helium tanks and load the gas at a warmer temperature.
SpaceX hopes to launch again in Florida on Jan. 26 at Kennedy Space Center's pad 39A; Launch Complex 40 remains out of commission.